NEW YORK (CNNfn) - PC and console gaming is no longer just a man's folly, according to a new report from a technology research firm. A study of 3,500 home Internet users done by PC Data found that while males comprise 55 percent of overall gamers, females for the first time comprise a majority of online game players.|
The report issued by the Reston, Va.-based research firm indicates that women comprise 50.4 percent of online gamers and that they typically favor online gambling, card games, and quiz and trivia games online. Sean Wargo, a senior analyst at PC Data, said that online gamers typically play free games found on sites such as Shockwave.com, Station.com, and Uproar.com
Online gaming Web sites now derive most of their revenue from advertising, but they are trying to move towards pay-per-play or subscription-based models, Wargo said. Uproar Inc. (UPRO: Research, Estimates), based in New York, reported revenue of $8.45 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30. It lost $7.7 million, or 27 cents per share, during the period, and its stock has collapsed to about $1.50 recently from a high of $35 earlier this year.
PC Data also found that 35 percent of home Internet users plan to purchase console or PC games during the current Holiday season. A majority of these, 69 percent, plan to buy console games, such as those for the Sony Playstation or the Sega Dreamcast. An estimated 60 percent of U.S. households own a PC and one in three owns a game console, PC Data said.
"The Christmas Holiday is huge for the online and offline gaming industry," Wargo said. "Consumers have already spent over $3.4 billion at retail alone for games. By year end, these figures could double, making it a $7 billion industry. While the report shows that PCs are the platform of choice of gamers, console games will be the clear winners in terms of sales for the year and the holiday season."
Men prefer war and sports
The research firm found that men and women prefer different types of online and offline games. Perhaps not surprisingly, males prefer war and sports themes. Men are also three times as likely as female gamers to participate in first-person shooter games, real-time/turn-based strategy games, and sports games. In contrast, female gamers prefer board/card games, gambling themes, and quiz/puzzle/trivia contests.
PC Data found that solitaire, Free Cell and similar games bundled with operating system software are the most frequently played of all online and offline games. The top PC game genres are those involving strategy, world building – such as SIM City -- and flight simulation. Console users prefer the fighting, sports, and driving simulation categories, the study found.
The top makers of PC-based game software include Electronic Arts (ERTS: Research, Estimates), Havas Interactive, Hasbro Interactive (HAS: Research, Estimates), Mattel Interactive (MAT: Research, Estimates), and Infogames Entertainment, according to sales data compiled by PC Data.
More than 41 percent of gamers spend between one and five hours per
week playing games, the study found. Twenty-four percent play games for less than an hour per week, and the remaining 35 percent play for more than five hours per week.